Wednesday, November 14, 2012

WotC To Publish New AD&D Material, Encourage AD&D Campaigns

I'll confess that I've never been a particular fan of the A1-4 series of modules. I fully understand that they've got an excellent reputation among many of my colleagues in the OSR, but they just never did much for me. I don't particularly dislike them; I just don't gush over them.

That said, I found the following to be of extreme interest (in the advertising blurb for the upcoming hardcover version of the Slavers modules, due from Wizards in June 2013):

Against the Slave Lords is a hardcover collection of four classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure modules that form a series -- A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity, A2: Secret of the Slavers Stockade, A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords, and A4: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords -- complete with original black-and-white interior art.
Added to the collection is an all-new fifth adventure -- A0: Danger at Darkshelf Quarry -- that you can use to kick off an AD&D campaign that pits a group of adventurers against the evil Slave Lords! Module A0, designed for levels 1-3, sets the stage for events that unfold throughout the remainder of the "A" series.
While it's neat to see another famous old-school work being republished, what struck me was in the second paragraph:
"you can use to kick off an AD&D campaign"
Wizards of the Coast is not only republishing old material, and is not only publishing new material for a version of the game that is ostensibly out of print, but is actively giving encouragement and assistance to DMs who want to start up a campaign using those out of print rules!

The implications of that simple fact are enormous. I think it signals a shift in their corporate attitude away from "the latest version of the rules is the only one we'll even acknowledge". It also demonstrates their lack of confidence in the ability of 4th Edition to carry the flag until 5th Edition is ready for the public (which is now scheduled for 2014). That means they have all of 2013 to play around with previous  editions, and more than that, continue reaching out to the fan bases of those previous editions.

An official micro-revival of AD&D? Bring it on! And if you should want to play a mountebank or a mystic when you take on the slave lords in Highport, boy have I got a book for you!


Timothy Brannan said...

I am in the same camp as you. My memories of the A series involve my characters horribly dying.

That all being said I embrace this new version. It is a shift in attitude and for me at least it is timely since I am going to run my kids through all these modules one day.

Hamlet said...

It might be true, if they continue the trend. If, over the next 12 or so months we see more re-releases and even new material, or perhaps even an announcement that WOTC has decided to officially support the older editions again even if on a limited basis.

But there's a part of me that suspects that this is all a gimick and we're rapidly approaching a punchline that will be dramatically unfunny to the vast majority of us.

John Harper Brinegar said...

At first I wondered why WotC picked the A-series to reprint, but on reflection, it makes a lot of sense. Those modules are more like an "adventure path" than any other AD&D series, so they might be attractive to players who first learned 3.5/Pathfinder and are now giving AD&D a whirl; additionally, they'll sell well to OSR folks who remember them fondly. I can see WotC continuing to reprint AD&D material if it sells well; after all, reprinted material doesn't take designers and developers away from work on D&D Next (though it may present a technical challenge to get the old material in a newly printable form). I don't think reprints will undercut sales of new editions much either, though I could be wrong.

Geffyl said...

And they're also doing the S-series too:

Blacksteel said...

"It also demonstrates their lack of confidence in the ability of 4th Edition to carry the flag until 5th Edition is ready for the public (which is now scheduled for 2014)."

Well, there aren't any more 4E books being published - Menzoberranzan was the last one and it came out in August. So I'd say the recent Ed Greenwood's Realms book, the AD&D and 3.5 reprints, and this coming book mark an interesting time for WOTC and for D&D players in that all eras and editions seem to be acceptable now. Hopefully it's a long term trend and not just cashing in on nostalgia while they're between editions.